for Tess

Like an orbiting satellite,
my daughter’s yellow cap bobs

around the lobster holding tank
of the illuminated fresh seafood display,

He’s not swimming, Daddy,
she informs me.

He’s resting, baby,
I reply, thinking he’s not alive,

but dead and destined
for a customer’s dinner plate.

Depressed in an acrylic corner,
he accepts his fate like all lobsters before him,

rendered helpless with claw cuffs,
counting the days until the tattooed cook

steams him in a scalding pot
that hardly muffles the squealing

behind closed doors of the kitchens
in grocery stores and seafood restaurants.

For her, he’s resting; he’ll swim later,
yet something about that doesn’t feel right.

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Kevin J. McDaniel’s poems have appeared in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Artemis Journal, Broad River Review, Cloudbank, Common Ground Review, Evening Street Review, Floyd County Moonshine, Good Works Review, Hawk & Whippoorwill, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Pudding Magazine, Sand Hills, Temenos, The Cape Rock, The Ocean State Review, The Offbeat, and others. He is the author of two chapbooks, Family Talks (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and At the Foot of a Mountain (Old Seventy Creek Press, 2018), in addition to a book of poetry, Rubbernecking (Main Street Rag Publishing, 2019). He teaches English composition at Bluefield College.